Ask the Experts!

Recently, Kathy and I were sitting on our back patio (lanai is the fancy realtor description) in the cool of the morning enjoying a hot cup of coffee and the fluorescent beauty of the morning.  The birds were wide awake.  We have a bird feeder and we keep it well stocked with a high quality seed mix that keeps them coming back.  We have generations of cardinals that are now permanent North Florida residents as well as a group of morning doves, mockingbirds, and a host of other songbirds that are regulars each morning.

 eagle

As I sat and watched the show, I began to consider the way the birds really love the morning.  I can remember times camping when the birds would start singing at 4 am.  My response- gosh guys go back to bed!  It’s way too early!  Yet the morning is a truly special time for the birds.  They wake and they sing for the morning.  It’s like they are screaming,  “You need to get up and see this amazingly beautiful day!” They are the epitome of the morning person!

The morning is their choice.  They could easily pick the afternoon or the evening.  Unlike our comfortable living, the birds live in close contact with the natural.  They experience the earth like no other creature, living outside and largely unprotected.  They are the experts.  And they choose the morning.

So what is so special about the morning?  Here are a few reasons I think that the birds choose the morning and why you should too!

The stillness and quiet of the morning.  The birds know that their song will really carry in the morning.  They know they really own the morning.  For us, the morning gives us stillness that allows us to rest, think and let our mind wander. The stillness provides insulation from the distractions and noise of the day.  We can let our minds sing- released from the bonds of obligations and schedules.  Are you singing in the morning?

The coolness of the morning is a great time to get your work done before the heat of the day.  The birds know that they can get their business done and wait out the heat in the shade of the trees.  The morning is a perfect time to plow through your work so you can shift into a lower gear as the day heats up.  If you get the heavy lifting done in the cool of the day, you will extend your energy and be more productive.  Do you run at hyper speed in the heat of the day?

The morning is a safe place.  The predators are still sleeping and the birds group together for protection.  The birds know these facts.  The morning is theirs.  The can relax a bit more than normal.  They have the numbers and they watch out for each other.  You can also own the morning.  Seems like only good things happen early in the morning.  Evil is asleep.  Do you get up early and enjoy the protection of the morning?

The morning is a time where we are refreshed and recharged.  The batteries are on full again! The birds are darting around with extra vigor.  If danger is present, they are able to make a quick get away with strength stored from the night of rest.  This rest is also powerful for us too.  The morning is the best time to exercise and do physical activity.  Your body is designed for this.  Are you taking advantage of this stored energy?

The morning screams of His perfect design.  The beauty of creation.  Diversity.  A new day and cleansing of the old.  You can see the vigor and playfulness in the birds in the morning.  They are out enjoying life and exploring the abundance of this earth.  The morning is a great time to reflect and begin anew.  Put yesterday behind and embark on a new day with discovery and adventure.  Are you taking advantage of the extravagant beauty and gift of the new day?

I love the mornings.  I always have.  My mom never worried about waking me up, I was always the first up and out the door.  I remember being mesmerized as a kid by the beauty of the morning.  I still love everything about it.   How about you?  Can you break the love affair with your pillow?  The experts know the secret.  Give it a try- you’ll see!

Do you follow the experts advice?  Do you love the mornings?  Click “Like” if you do!  If not so much- click on comments and tell me your story!

Advertisements

Wake Up Sleeper!

Last week a friend of mine had a headache and vision problems, so he went to the emergency room. A little more than a day latter, he passed away. A stroke they say. He was in good health. No signs of any problems. He left an amazing family and a beautiful wife behind and alone. You just can’t make sense of this stuff.

"The best way to make dreams come true is...

This is the third friend that I have lost recently. All around my age and all very sudden. I think we all get the fact that we don’t get to choose when we will die. And many of us will die suddenly. The thing we can control is how we will live.

Wake up sleeper…the days are evil!

On Sunday, our pastor shared a message about this choice. We must learn to live our lives with a sense of urgency. Our plan for greatness usually goes something like this: I plan on starting my dream once I get finished with… Leaders are great planners. We think through the details and methodically move each piece in place. We are convinced that this is the best way, but really, its just the safe way. To reach greatness takes risk. To accelerate the process you probably will need to jump early. Waiting until everything is perfect just chews up time- you may never find just the right time.

Fear is a great motivator.
Fear is a clarifier.
Fear is an accelerator.

Safe and Sound

We are programmed to prepare for the impending disaster. We are convinced that no one will be there for you. American individualism. We must store up and save. Seek safety and all it brings. But are we really ever safe? There are countless events that could occur that will make all of your wealth and comfort useless. Safety is really an illusion. You can store your entire life and loose it all in an instant.  Struggle your whole life for nothing instead of enjoying the ride! Are you seeking security or seeking life to the full?

Check the Box

In the midst of trying to get to where we want to go we spend our time trying to check off the items we have completed. Trying to get done. Happy that something is over. I just need to get through this. What is that? We live as though the goal is to be done. Just survival. Is this all there is? Don’t you want to live, not just survive?

The Megaphone

The thing we try hardest to avoid is actually the thing that can wake us up. CS Lewis said that pain is a megaphone.  It wakes us up and brings us back to reality. When everything is going smoothly, we live in a kind of slumber of ease and security and we loose touch…

With what is really important.
With how fragile our lives really are.
With our dreams and what we were uniquely created to do.

Pain is the wake up call. It’s a way to bring you back. I hate it, yet it is like a slap on the face. You remember why you are here. What is really important. What you are doing now and what you want to get done.

Loosing these friends has awakened me. The world seems different. My priorities have changed.

Wake up sleeper-there is much to do!

Can you relate to this?  Why do we dwell on safety and security?  Do you find yourself living just to “get done”?  Click on comments and let me know what you think!

Laughter Wreckage

They say that laughter is the best medicine.  However, this is not always the case…

I was sitting in a meeting last week and I made an observation regarding my personal experience on a topic.  What followed caught me completely off guard.   The person at whom I was directing my comments laughed at me.  Not a laugh like something funny.  This was a “you naïve boy” kind of laugh.  A real belly laugh!  I wanted to fire back with a statement like- “so wants so funny?”  I knew that it would be out of place (the conference room was full) and it would be provocative, so I left it alone.  I sat and wondered how long it had been that someone truly laughed at me.  Sure, I get laughed at when I do something funny or silly, but this was in response to an observation that I knew was factual on a subject in which I have thirty years experience.  There was no real purpose in the laughter.  If he disagreed with me he could have simply told me so.  Instead he chose to laugh in my face.

 English: LOL

I have to admit that it struck a nerve for a moment or two.  And this nerve runs deep.  It brought me back to schoolyard days of being laughed at by my friends.  It’s really amazing the damage that a little laughter can do when it is used as a weapon.  There is some really amazing irony here.  The thing that can give you such pleasure and fun can also be extremely painful.

It’s really character assassination…

We must treat a person’s feelings like a very fragile instrument.  Like an egg.  You should hold it gently and protect it from damage.  I have been on both sides of this, yet there is only one side that you can control.  I have been quick to speak or direct without considering the other side and have left the burning wreckage in the road.  As leaders, we must be extremely careful to consider how our responses will be received. 

Think of trading places…

The skilled leader has the ability to actually move out of their shoes and into the shoes of others.  This includes being able to visualize how the direction will be perceived including all of the personal characteristics that are at work in the situation.  Yes, there are some that need a strong voice.  They are accustomed to that style or that style is necessary given the circumstances.  However, some are very fragile.  A loud or harsh response will cause them to withdraw.  In trading places you have to consider the effort that they are making, not necessarily their results.  If you recklessly trash their work, you are sure to hurt their feelings.  You may have to authority to say what you want in any manner that you see fit.  However, I promise that you won’t be happy with the results.  If they disengage, you will struggle to win them back.  You may never win them back.  You may hit that nerve that brings them back to the schoolyard.  Remember that the goal is results- not just exercising your authority.

What do you think?  Press “Like” if you agree!  Have you experienced the “wreckage in the road”.  Press “Comment” and let me know what you think!          

The Why Theory

When I first starting working in the building trades, the guys that I worked around were a real cast of characters.  I was a youngster so most, if not all, of the guys were older than me.  The one thing that I noticed was that the majority of the guys really had fun at work.  There were plenty of practical jokes, laughter and comic relief so the day went by quickly.  This wasn’t because the work was easy.  Construction work is hot, dirty, sweaty and tiring. There is nothing easy about it.  Yet, surrounded with the right cast of characters, the day went by pretty quickly and we really had fun.

Under construction

The other remarkable thing I noticed was the way the older guys would take the time to teach the younger guys how to properly do the work.  There were no hidden secrets or protecting of territories.  The older guys would openly share their knowledge and take the new recruits under their wings.  They taught, nurtured and celebrated when the youngsters began to excel in the work.  They took the time away from their work and actually showed them how to do it.  And most importantly they explained why you must do the work in a particular way.

Sadly, I think we are losing ground in both of these areas.  I see tradesmen today who are addicted clock watchers who are simply counting down the minutes to the end of the day.  There is less laughter and more tension on the jobsite.  Many of the most skilled tradesmen are reluctant to share their knowledge of the trade because it takes additional effort or they have the warped fear that they may be training their replacement.  It gives me great pain watching this occur when I know how it can be.  How it was. They don’t realize that you can actually have fun at work.   And most importantly, they have lost touch with the satisfaction that comes from training up the next generation.

I have a new recruit at work.  He is young and bright and has an excellent future in front of him.  He is learning and is very inquisitive.  We are extremely busy so I have been confronted with the tension of just giving him the “What” and not the “Why” because it simply takes more time. 

See- the “What” is easy.  Do this, do that.  Don’t ask why just do it! 

I know there are managers who feel like the “What” is enough.  They will figure it out.  I don’t have time to explain everything.

They are so wrong!

You must do the why!  You must take the time to explain the why!

This is the way I see it.  Life is a puzzle.  All the pieces need to fit together.  If you fail to give the why, it is like trying to shove a puzzle piece in a spot where it doesn’t belong.  You fail to see why something is important and how it fits in the overall system.   You are simply following directions.  Yet when you do the why- it’s similar to reaching the end of the puzzle- when you can quickly put many pieces in place very quickly. 

It begins to make sense.  You can see the big picture.  Once you have the big picture you can also begin to see beyond the picture– you can expand your horizon.  This is how innovation occurs.  This is the why theory.

The why is the pathway to growth.  I tell my gang at work that I can’t think for everyone.  It’s just impossible.  They must think for themselves.  They must take ownership and be the author of both problemsolving and process improvement.  Yet, without answering the why questions, they are unable to comprehend the complete picture and ill equipped to make quality decisions.

So take the time to do the why.  Put away your agenda and pour into others.  They need the why.  We all need the why.  When I started out, the old guys understood this.  They knew they were making us all stronger by sharing their knowledge.   Don’t underestimate the importance of your role in this! 

Do you struggle with taking the time to give the why?  Let me know your story!  Click on comment below and let me know what you think!  If you like the post PLEASE press “Like” and post on Facebook or Twitter! 

Stuck in the Mud?

My son and I love offshore fishing.  We have had some really memorable fishing trips that will always be special to me.  One of the components to bottom fishing offshore is dealing with the anchor.  At the end of a long day fishing, there is a real tendency to get to the wheel first so that you didn’t have to pull up the anchor.  Pulling up the anchor in 150 feet of water is a real job, and at the end of a long day of fishing it was not something that you really feel like doing.

I can’t pull any more.  I have tried so many times and I just can’t make any progress.  I am so tired.  I just can’t do it…

A fluke-style anchor

While fishing with a friend, my son discovered a great little device to get the anchor up with ease.  The anchor ball is an inflated ball about the size of a volleyball with a small section of rope and a ring that attaches to the anchor line and helps pull up the anchor.  So, you attach the ring to the anchor line and slowly drive the boat in the opposite direction of your drift.  The anchor ball is really not very big, so it’s not brute force, but constant pressure.  Just like magic- up comes the anchor and all you need to do is pull in the line with the anchor floating below the anchor ball.  I can tell you that at the end of a long day the anchor ball is the greatest thing in the boat!

I’ve tried everything.  There just seems to be no end to this.  There has to be something I am missing…

The problem with pulling up the anchor by hand is that the harder you pull, the deeper it digs in.  Don’t you feel like that sometimes?  Stuck in the mud and the harder you try the more stuck you get!

Gosh, don’t I know this!  The harder I work at it, the deeper it seems to get.  There’s just no way to get freedom…

The real key to the anchor ball is direction.  By changing direction opposite of the boat drift you simply need to apply a small but constant pressure.  Change direction and it becomes pretty easy.  The ball will lift the anchor up to the surface.

A little change in direction and gentle pressure.  Really?  That’s all it takes?  Why didn’t I try this years ago.  It seems so simple…

We are really brainwashed that it always takes brawn to get something done.  The anchor ball is a great example of this.  Sometimes it’s not about work.  I have so many friends who struggle with thinking that they don’t measure up.  They aren’t good enough. They continue to work at problems in their lives and can’t seem to make any progress.  They are stuck- and the harder they work, the deeper the anchor digs in.

I make it harder than it really is.  I seem to make it bigger than it really is.  I seem to complicate it.  Why do I do this?

Not only does it seem to dig you in deeper, but when you are tired you can get paralyzed.  You feel inadequate.  Unable to make a difference.  You marginalize your impact  You feel like this will be with you forever.  You will never shake this.  You become resolved to continue to fail.

I know that there must be an answer here.  I know that there must be more…

I know Believers who really think of themselves as despicable sinners.  They feel like they will never measure up.  They say that they understand grace and what Jesus did on the cross, yet they work so hard at trying to measure up.  And they fail- as we all do.  So they become stuck in the mud.  Unable to be used.  I feel like they are stuck in a works based pursuit.  They don’t feel good enough to do Kingdom work.  So, as they try harder at their vision of holiness- the more frustrated they get.

I get it now.  Change direction away from working harder towards a real relationship.  Fill up my life with Him and everything else gets pushed out.  I need to get over myself!  It’s not about me…

The Bible is full of knuckleheads like all of us.  God uses the weak to be the strong- He gets the glory.  Once we believe what He did is final and complete and we believe the amazing depth of His love for us, we can enter a new world of really being used by Him.  Being stuck in the mud is no good.  God has an amazing plan for you- a plan that only you can do.  The anchor ball is His love.  Let His love lift you out of bondage so you can step into a new and exciting life.  You have nothing to prove.  He wants your heart.  Go to Him!